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Not real reform, Edwards tax changes fail anyway

Think of how much Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards would have struggled had he actually tried genuine tax and fiscal reform.

When his old desk-mate state Democrat Rep. Sam Jones euthanized Edwards’ idea of a gross receipts tax out of its misery earlier this week, that ended what little resemblance the governor’s agenda had to addressing the state’s Byzantine and inefficient fiscal structure. Without the measure in place, not only did his plan lose its primary aspect, the raising of more money for government to spend, but also it no longer had a compensatory mechanism to offset changes to individual and corporate income rates, lowering these while broadening the base through the elimination of targeted exceptions.

Of course, he intended the plan first and foremost to inflate the budget, with any reform a byproduct, and tried to take the easy way to do it. That strategy aimed to avoid what plagued the efforts of Republican former Gov. Bobby Jindal, who four years ago also tried to tackle the same structural issues but in a much more comprehensive way.


Helping Edwards understand minimum wage folly

Louisiana’s Gov. John Bel Edwards, in an interview with my colleagues at the Baton Rouge Advocate, seemed perplexed about opposing a raise of the minimum wage. “I don't understand the opposition to that,” he said to them. “I don't know that it's principled or that it can be well articulated that in why 2017 someone ought to be working for seven dollars and a quarter an hour.”

That’s OK, I’m here to help. Other than the facts that the minimum wage – especially for the least skilled – costs Americans jobs, encourages illegal aliens to flock to America and drives prices artificially higher, it’s a great idea.

It causes a problem as it sets an arbitrary floor on the price of labor. In a free market without a monopoly on labor, such as caused by unions (or the highly unlikely event of monopsony, such as in days gone by when a town formed around a single employer, which as the nature of the economy has changed monopsonic conditions have become almost extinct in America), voluntary transactions correctly price the value of labor, exchanging remuneration for the value added to society that the labor produces. But if government intervention forces greater payment than the actual worth of the work, the inefficiency of the use of that resource ripples across the economy.


NW LA elections feature clash between old, new

Upcoming elections in Caddo and Bossier Parishes revive the ongoing struggle between the old ways of politics and modernization.

This Saturday, Caddo voters face five ballot propositions, although Shreveporters don’t participate in a sales tax maneuver that combines two existing millages for general parish operations worth 1.5 percent on sales for approval into perpetuity. The other four renew property taxes, but in controversial ways.

These take propositions to fund generally facilities, the health unit, the juvenile court and detention center, and courthouse operations, and attempt to extend their terms early, anywhere from over one to four years prior to expiration. That tactic may stem from the humiliating 2013 defeat of a bond issue for capital improvements, repeated in 2014, which would have had the effect of taking the 1.55 mill rate at the time and elevating it to the full 1.75 mill rate allowed for general obligation debt.


Edwards bears responsibility for contract dispute

Recently, a U.S. House of Representative with a Republican majority gave Louisiana’s Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards the business over the speed and execution of flood relief. But did he deserve that?

The committee’s majority probed certain decisions made by the Edwards Administration that seemed to delay getting money into the hands of flood victims. One line of inquiry in particular focused upon the on-again, off-again, now maybe off-again situation with hiring a contractor to coordinate the distribution of aid, which had become entangled with the realities of executive power.

Essentially, the entity responsible for vetting the selection, the State Licensing Board for Contractors, on advice from its counsel Larry Bankston, shaped the original bidding so that the contract would have gone to an entity that employed his son. The disqualified winner then sued the state, in short order the state rebid and again awarded it to the original firm, and now another firm has filed a complaint with the state over the process which ultimately could end up in court.